November may be only a few days old but already this National Hunt season is starting to hot up following a number of impressive performances. The action has been excellent on both sides of the Irish Sea and with that in mind, we are ready to make our first ante-post selection for the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Having an ante-post bet on the Cheltenham Festival is always fraught with danger as punters will be only too aware but sometimes it is worth taking the plunge before the value is gone for good. The Gold Cup division looks like a murky one this year with no stand-out star at the moment and as Lord Windermere showed last season, a surprise winner in the big race is a very real possibility at the moment.
Ireland went through a difficult spell ,with regard to the Gold Cup, during the Kauto Star/Denman era a few years back but their luck changed with the aforementioned Lord Windermere and that could well continue this season. One horse who continues to catch the eye is the improving Don Cossack for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown and he very much looks like the ideal type for a big Gold Cup run in March if he can remain fit and well.
Gigginstown already have the likes of Sir Des Champs, First Lieutenant and Road To Riches who currently all feature in the ante-post Gold Cup market but it is Don Cossack who catches the eye. The seven-year-old was a Grade 1 winning novice last season, beating Road to Riches in the process, when he scored in the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase over 2m4f and he has improved again this term.
It is fair to say that his only appearance at Cheltenham so far was a disappointing one as he fell in the RSA Chase last March but his jumping is normally top quality so he should be forgiven for that blemish. He has returned this winter as a second season chaser and has looked better than ever with two quick wins under his belt. The most impressive came last time out as he slammed the highly rated Wonderful Charm by over eight lengths to win the Powers Irish Whiskey Chase at Down Royal with a powerful front running performance under a cracking ride.
He has also run well over 3m1f before, including when second behind Holywell at Aintree last season, and the feeling is that his stamina will continue to improve as he gets older. That will be tested this season with Elliott nominating either the Lexus or the King George over Christmas as a target and we should learn even more about Don Cossack if runs in either of those two races.
Furthermore, Don Cossack appears to be versatile when it comes to ground conditions with his first two wins this season coming on good to firm ground at Punchestown and then yielding at Down Royal. Gigginstown look very strong in the staying chase division but Don Cossack jumps well, stays well and is coming into the right age bracket which ensures that his current price of around 20/1 looks like an appealing one at this stage and ensures that he takes his place in our Cheltenham Festival Ante Post Post Portfolio today.
Don Cossack may not on the face of it have the class of a Bobs Worth or a Silviniaco Conti but recent winners of the Gold Cup like Synchronised and Lord Windermere indicate that he is exactly the sort of horse who could feature in March. It is entirely possible one of those classier horses could have too much for Don Cossack on the day but at a very nice each-way price, the Gordon Elliott horse is a very promising addition to our ante post Festival selections.
Cheltenham Festival Ante-Post Tip - Don Cossack E/W @ 20/1 for the Gold Cup with Betfred